April 25, 2005
The idea that Charlie Rangel -- Rangel! -- might be punished by voters in '06 for opposing Bush on Social Security is, of course, beyond ludicrous. More importantly, if Bush really thinks his "60 stops in 60 days" tour is going well, it is a worrying sign of a president so isolated by his zealous advance staffers and hyper-partisan aides from the country he's governing that he is actually being led astray. Of course, it's always possible Bush could have had some politically strategic reason for feeding Rangel this particular positive line, as opposed to making some other boosterish remark. But I'm hard pressed to think of one.
Indeed, Bush's actions on Social Security recently -- including his lack of an "exit strategy" -- have seemed increasingly inexplicable to those accustomed to viewing the White House as a ruthless and uncannily successful political machine. But once you hypothesize that he's a leader isolated from reality inside a wholly positive and supportive bubble -- a situation all politicians must guard against, but presidents more than others -- and that, in this case, it's a bubble that also distrusts and discounts objective press reports, his actions begin to make a lot more sense.
April 18, 2005
He Knows What's Important
From the Progress Report:
"I blanked on who catches for the Phillies. I asked [Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig]. He didn't know. The president said, '[Mike] Lieberthal.' ... [President Bush is] so up on the game that it's astounding."
-- Washington Nationals President Tony Tavares on President Bush's knowledge of baseball, 4/18/05
"When I first read that in the newspaper about the need to have passports, I said, 'What's going on here?'"
-- President Bush on his knowledge of White House-approved immigration policies, 4/18/05
April 14, 2005
AP: White House Said to Impede Education Probe
The Bush administration is impeding an investigation into the Education Department's hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams by refusing to allow key White House officials to be interviewed, a Democratic lawmaker briefed on the review said Thursday.
In addition, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is considering invoking a privilege that he said would require information to be deleted when the final version is publicly released, which is expected within days.
Miller called for Jack Higgins, the inspector general at the Education Department, to delay the report until Spellings agrees not to invoke ''deliberative process privilege'' and the White House grants interviews with current or former officials familiar with the deal.
''The public's right to know is absolutely more important than any claim of privilege that the White House or the Department of Education might make,'' Miller said. ''The public has a right to all the facts about possible misconduct.''
April 06, 2005
This Needs to Stop
There’s a certain logic to the enterprise: don’t take on the Texas president, who remains popular, especially as commander-in-chief.Editor and Publisher: Gallup: Bush Approval Rating Lowest Ever for 2nd-Term Prez at this Point
President Bush's approval rating has plunged to the lowest level of any president since World War II at this point in his second term, the Gallup Organization reported today.
All other presidents who served a second term had approval ratings well above 50% in the March following their election, Gallup reported.
Presidents Truman and Johnson had finished out the terms of their predecessors, and then won election on their own for a second term.
Bush's current rating is 45%. The next lowest was Reagan with 56% in March 1985.
More bad signs for the president: Gallup's survey now finds only 38% expressing satisfaction with the "state of the country" while 59% are "dissatisfied." One in three Americans feel the economy is excellent or good, while the rest find it "only fair" or poor.
April 01, 2005
Bush Says Sorry for His Mistakes
March 31, 2005
From Eric Alterman at Altercation (via Liberal Oasis): "If Kofi Annan's critics demanded the same level of accountability from George W. Bush they profess to want from the UN General Secretary, he would have been impeached in his first week of office. And if he were president, we be a healthier, safer, saner and far more honest nation."
... Heck, I'll also quote this about CNN:
I just returned from an hour at the gym, where CNN proved unavoidable. And what a disgusting sight it was; non-stop exploitation of Terri Schiavo’s horrific death, followed by commentary after commentary of only people who shared the view of that small minority of Americans who believe the federal government ought to be intervening in the most intimate decisions imaginable, overturning individual’s wishes and those of their spouses to suit their ideological proclivities. During the hour I was there, every word on CNN, save the commercials, focused on this individual’s physical death—she died long ago mentally and emotionally-- and not one second was devoted to the release of the Intel report regarding a war that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, and the injuries and ruined lives of hundreds of thousands more. And they have the chutzpah to call this a “news” network, (though of course, I can’t imagine Fox or MSNBC were any better). I suppose “shame” is irrelevant word amongst those in the cable news network, but I am beginning to think that “Jeff Gannon” was in a far more honorable business before he pretended to be a “news” man.On Fox, Lost Remote published this about their coverage of Schiavo's death: "10:30 - Fox News guest alludes to Hitler and Nazi Germany's starvation of millions of Jews, comparing it to Terri's death"
March 29, 2005
Erring on the Side of Life?
BoldPrint on George W. Bush, who likes to err on the side of life:
"It is wisest to always err on the side of life."Also, remember this episode of George W. Bush respecting life?
-- George W. Bush, who oversaw 152 executions, including those of retarded human beings, as Texas governor
* * * * *
Ok, I know this has been pointed out 90 gazillion times, but I still don't get it. How can people who care so profoundly about one woman's life be so callous when it comes to the death penalty?
Seriously, I am asking a question here, because I don't know the answer.
Clearly, the Religious Right doesn't feel that all life is holy-- once you've committed a capital crime, you're life, in their eyes, becomes meaningless. But how did this ideology come about? How did this incredible logical inconsistency become part of a coherent moral philosophy?
And, for that matter, if not all life is sacred-- if a guilty man's life is no longer sacred-- why can't a life like Schiavo's be "unsacrified?" If one is in constant pain and has essentially no consciousness or human feeling, can't we just heap that person into the "it's acceptable to let them die" pile?
Please elucidate me.
In his autobiography, Bush claimed that the pending execution of Karla Faye Tucker "felt like a huge piece of concrete...crushing me." But in an unguarded moment in 1999 while traveling during the presidential campaign, Bush revealed his true feelings to the journalist Tucker Carlson. Bush mentioned Karla Faye Tucker, who had been executed the previous year, and told Carlson that in the weeks immediately before the execution, Bianca Jagger and other protesters had come to Austin to plead for clemency for her. Carlson asked Bush if he had met with any of the petitioners and was surprised when Bush whipped around, stared at him, and snapped, "No, I didn't meet with any of them." Carlson, who until that moment had admired Bush, said that Bush's curt response made him feel as if he had just asked "the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed." Bush went on to tell him that he had also refused to meet Larry King when he came to Texas to interview Tucker but had watched the interview on television. King, Bush said, asked Tucker difficult questions, such as "What would you say to Governor Bush?"
What did Tucker answer? Carlson asked.
"Please," Bush whimpered, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "please, don't kill me."
Carlson was shocked. He couldn't believe Bush's callousness and reasoned that his cruel mimicry of the woman whose death he had authorized must have been sparked by anger over Karla Faye Tucker's remarks during the King interviews. When King had asked her what she planned to ask Governor Bush, Karla Faye had said she thought that if Bush approved her execution, he would be succumbing to election-year pressure from pro–death penalty voters.
March 25, 2005
Keep Bush from Captain Picard
Mr. Bush comes by the restaurant occasionally, the last time was the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving. The routine is always the same.
"The Secret Service comes first. They secure the area. We turn the fuel pumps off and they bring in the dog. They're very discreet.
"Then they come in and he signs autographs and visits with the people," she said, bringing a framed collection of 12 photos from the November visit.
"He loves rubbing bald heads. He says it brings him luck."
March 22, 2005
The funny things you learn every day; from the Economist:
“INTELLECTUAL” is hardly the first word that springs to mind when you contemplate George Bush. Mr Bush glided through the best education that money can buy without acquiring much in the way of “book learning”. At school, he formed a stick-ball team called the Nads (providing him and his pals with a chance to shout “Go Nads”); at Yale, he was famous for doing the alligator, a dance that involved falling on the floor and rolling around; at Harvard Business School, he wore cowboy boots and chewed tobacco, a strutting provocation to the lefty penseurs who dominated Harvard Yard.
March 15, 2005
Bush v. Reality
Another nice one from the Progress Report:
"The American people did not place us in office to pass on problems to future generations and future Presidents and future Congresses." – President Bush, 3/12/05
"[A]doption of the policies proposed by the [President's 2006 budget] would increase the deficit by $104 billion over the next five years (2006 through 2010) and $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years (2006 through 2015), compared with the deficits that would occur if there are no changes in current policies." – CBPP, 3/8/05
February 09, 2005
Bush and Public Opinion on SS
A poll from Westhill Partners poll released by The Hotline, summarized by The Century Foundation (perm link unavail)
1. Bush receives a 34 percent approval rating on handling Social Security, with 52 percent disapproval. And among independents, his rating is markedly worse: a mere 23 percent approval and 59 percent disapproval.
2. A question on the seriousness of the problems with Social Security yields just 18 percent saying that the system needs to be completely rebuilt (12 percent among independents), with 33 percent saying major changes are needed and 43 percent calling for only minor changes.
3. By 61 percent to 29 percent (66 percent to 21 percent among independents), voters say that keeping Social Security as a program with a guaranteed monthly benefit is more important than letting younger workers decide for themselves how some of their Social Security contributions are invested, with varying benefit levels depending on the success of their investments.
4. By 61 percent to 24 percent (66 percent to 16 percent among independents), voters say that Bush’s November election victory does not mean the American people support his ideas on Social Security.
January 20, 2005
From the Madison Capital Times:
AT&T, Bank of America Corp., Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Corp., ChevronTexaco and Exxon Mobil Corp. and FedEx Corp.
Ford Motor Co., Home Depot, Lockheed-Martin Corp., Marriott International, Marriott Vacation Club International, Microsoft and Northrup Grumman.
Occidental Petroleum Co., Oracle, Pfizer Inc., Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., Time Warner, United Parcel Service, United Technologies and Wachovia Corp.
What do all these major corporations have in common?
Two things:First, they are some of the firms that are chipping in "contributions" of $100,000 to $250,000 to cover the cost of President Bush's second inaugural party.
Second, they are firms that have a special interest in being on the good side of the Bush administration. Many are the largest players in heavily regulated industries that are defined by government decisions and, in the case of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, have benefited tremendously from the laxness of the Bush administration's approach. Others, such as defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, would be shadows of themselves without lucrative government contracts. Still others, such as energy firms ChevronTexaco, Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum, are aching to get a piece of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
And they may get it.
The Scandal Sheet
"Print it out, send it to Harry Reid, or just read it and weep. Here are 34 scandals from the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency -- every one of them worse than Whitewater."
3. Dark Matter: The Energy Task ForceRead it.
The scandal: A lawsuit has claimed it is illegal for Dick Cheney to keep the composition of his 2001 energy-policy task force secret. What's the big deal? The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has suggested an explosive aspect of the story, citing a National Security Council memo from February 2001, which "directed the N.S.C. staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of ... 'operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.'" In short, the task force's activities could shed light on the administration's pre-9/11 Iraq aims.
The problem: The Federal Advisory Committee Act says the government must disclose the work of groups that include non-federal employees; the suit claims energy industry executives were effectively task force members. Oh, and the Bush administration has portrayed the Iraq war as a response to 9/11, not something it was already considering.
The outcome: Unresolved. In June 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to an appellate court ...
5. Halliburton's No-Bid Bonanza
The scandal: In February 2003, Halliburton received a five-year, $7 billion no-bid contract for services in Iraq.
The problem: The Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting officer, Bunnatine Greenhouse, objected to the deal, saying the contract should be the standard one-year length, and that a Halliburton official should not have been present during the discussions.
The outcome: The FBI is investigating. The $7 billion contract was halved and Halliburton won one of the parts in a public bid. For her troubles, Greenhouse has been forced into whistle-blower protection.
6. Halliburton: Pumping Up Prices
The scandal: In 2003, Halliburton overcharged the army for fuel in Iraq. Specifically, Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root hired a Kuwaiti company, Altanmia, to supply fuel at about twice the going rate, then added a markup, for an overcharge of at least $61 million, according to a December 2003 Pentagon audit.
The problem: That's not the government's $61 million, it's our $61 million.
The outcome: The FBI is investigating.
January 17, 2005
The Coming Wars
Seymour Hersh has been right on target in his past articles ... if he's right in this one, oy ... THE COMING WARS: What the Pentagon can now do in secret.
George W. Bush’s reëlection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control—against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism—during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way.
Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region. Bush’s reëlection is regarded within the Administration as evidence of America’s support for his decision to go to war. It has reaffirmed the position of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership who advocated the invasion, including Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Feith, the Under-secretary for Policy. According to a former high-level intelligence official, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after the election and told them, in essence, that the naysayers had been heard and the American people did not accept their message. Rumsfeld added that America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing. ... In my interviews, I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. “Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’” the former intelligence official told me. “But they say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned—not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there.”
December 22, 2004
"And so during these holiday seasons, we thank our blessings." —George W. Bush, Fort Belvoir, Va., Dec. 10, 2004
December 21, 2004
The Unpopular President
December 08, 2004
Seattle Weekly: Is Bush the Antichrist?
Quite the provocative title, huh? Some stuff from the Tim Appelo piece in the Seattle Weekly:
"Bush is one of the key figures leading the church away from Jesus," says Christian author Bob Miller, who wrote the nonbluenose Christian best seller Blue Like Jazz. Miller is no pantywaist—he had the balls to run a ministry at Reed College in Portland, Ore., which is so godless that its soccer team is said in campus legend to have once staged a halftime crucifixion in a game against a Christian school. But he couldn't stomach it when, for instance, Texas Gov. Bush not only allowed the execution of his fellow born-again Christian, the penitent ax murderer Karla Faye Tucker, but made vicious fun of her on TV ("Please don't kill me!" Bush said, mocking her prayerful plea for God's mercy). Miller classifies Bush Christians as modern Pharisees—the allegedly proud, rigid, legalistic hypocrites John the Baptist called "a generation of vipers." "The worst condemnation that Jesus has for anybody, I mean the worst, is for Pharisees," says Miller. "If you asked Jerry Falwell who the Pharisees are in our society, they can't point anybody out." There are no mirrors in Bush's church.
"People of faith—especially those whose moral values differ from the values exploited this time around—need to figure out a way to be figured into the political landscape," Philadelphia Presbyterian minister Cynthia Jarvis editorialized in The New York Times. "Maybe four years from now, when the number one issue cited by voters in exit polls is again 'moral values,' those values will have something to do with economic justice, racial equality and the peaceable kingdom for which we all were made."
But few have preached harder against the Christian right's wrongs than the Rev. Rich Lang of Seattle's Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard. "This administration is a culture of death, and so is the religious right," says Lang. In his Open Letter to George Bush, published in Real Change, Lang thunders, "You claim Christ but act like Caesar. There is blood all over your hands with the promise of even more blood to come. You sit atop the nations like the Biblical Whore of Babylon openly fornicating with the military men of might." His sermon "George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism" (posted like Luther's theses on the church Web site, www.tumseattle.org) rails that "the power and seduction of this administration emerges from its diabolical manipulation of Christian rhetoric . . . the mirror opposite of what Jesus embodied. It is, indeed, the materialization of the spirit of Antichrist: a perversion of Christian faith and practice."
November 07, 2004
[Maureen Dowd] Rove's Revenge.Like the
[Maureen Dowd] Rove's Revenge.
Like the president, vice president and defense secretary, General Karl wanted to wipe out the gray, if-it-feels-good-do-it, blame-America-first, doused-in-Vietnam-guilt 60's and turn the clock back to the black-and-white Manichaean values of the 50's.